The Cubs have won four straight against the Pirates, all in convincing fashion, and now they have their ace on the bump with a chance to clinch another series victory. Marcus Stroman was strong in his last start, limiting the Bucs to two runs on four hits over six innings to notch his 13th quality start out of 15 outings. That’s two more than anyone else in the bigs right now.
As long as Stroman keeps it up, the offense won’t need to score 12 runs on 17 more infield singles. All that scoring sure has been fun though, and it starts with Mike Tauchman atop the lineup in center. Nico Hoerner bats and plays second, Seiya Suzuki is in right, Ian Happ is in left, and Dansby Swanson is at short. Cody Bellinger mans first, Christopher Morel is the DH — where he’s getting more comfortable thanks to a little advice — and Nick Madrigal is at third. Tucker Barnhart rounds things out behind the plate.
They’ll be facing big righty Johan Oviedo, who was Stroman’s counterpart for that last game. He struck out eight with just one walk in that one and predictably kept the ball in the part, but he gave up four runs on eight hits over an abbreviated effort that lasted just 4.1 innings.
Oviedo has a big fastball that sits around 96 with a little arm-side action, but he’ll fill up the zone with it and often comes too far inside on righties. His slider makes up over 40% of his pitches and is a little different from the norm in that it also fills up the zone. He’ll start it up and land it middle rather than sweeping it away, though he’ll still carry it down to the glove side from time to time.
His curveball is very good as well and it will also find the zone quite frequently, then he’s got a changeup that works well with limited usage. Oviedo should probably be getting much better results given how his stuff looks on paper, but something in either his sequencing or execution is leading to mediocre numbers.
The ability to limit home runs won’t help tonight because the Cubs seem to score more when they play station-to-station baseball. If they can do more of the same in this one, they’ll win going away yet again. First pitch is at 6:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup for game 2️⃣ in Pittsburgh!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 20, 2023